C4 photosynthesis is functionally dependent on metabolic interactions between mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells. Although the C4 cycle is biochemically well understood many aspects of the regulation of enzyme activities, gene expression and cell differentiation are elusive. Protein kinases are likely involved in these regulatory processes providing links to hormonal, metabolic and developmental signal transduction pathways. We have identified several protein kinases that are differentially expressed in mesophyll and bundle-sheath cells of the C4 plant Sorghum bicolor. Here we describe the characterization of two putative protein kinases that show high similarity to the SNF1/AMPK family of protein serine/threonine kinases. The mRNA of both kinases accumulates to much higher levels in mesophyll cells than in the bundle-sheath and can also be detected in root tissue. Complementation experiments with a snf1 mutant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae indicate that the S. bicolor protein kinase SNFL1 does not represent a functional homologue of the yeast SNF1 protein kinase.